Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, a Liberian American writer and poet, was born in Monrovia, Liberia, and immigrated to Michigan in 1991. She earned a BA from the University of Liberia, as well as an MSc from Indiana University–Bloomington, and a PhD in creative writing and literature from Western Michigan University.

Wesley is the author of six books of poetry: Praise Song for My Children: New and Selected Poems (Autumn House Press, 2020), which won the 2023 Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Award; When the Wanderers Come Home (University of Nebraska Press, 2016); Where the Road Turns (Autumn House Press, 2010); The River is Rising (Autumn House Press, 2007); Becoming Ebony (Southern Illinois University Press, 2003); and Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa (New Issues Press, 1998). Additionally, she is the editor of the anthology Breaking the Silence: Anthology of Liberian Poetry (University of Nebraska Press, 2023).

Pamela Uschuk, a judge for the 2023 Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Award, said of Wesley’s work, “[Her] powerful rhythms are derived both from and deftly combine her Grebo poetry tradition with the Wester​n poetry tradition. Always, there is a profound spirituality and humanity as well as a ferocity of being in this world as evinced by her fearless activism.”

Among Wesley’s other honors are the 2022 Levinson Prize, a 2021 Edward Stanley Award, an Irving S. Gilmore Emerging Artist Grant from the Kalamazoo Foundation, and a 2002 Crab Orchard Award, granted for her second book of poetry, Becoming Ebony.

A professor of English, creative writing, and African literature at Penn State University–Altoona, Wesley lives in Pennsylvania.